In nationally televised remarks to his cabinet, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called on Turkey to release the two Greek army officers who are imprisoned in a maximum-security jail in Edirne without any charges having been filed against them.

The prime minister said Turkey should “abandon its aggressive rhetoric, and proceed as soon as possible with a good will gesture, to return the two Greek officers who have been incarcerated in Edirne”.

Tsipras requested that judicial procedures be expedited in order to hasten the return of the officers to Greece.

“This is a move that we are waiting for. We shall be patient. Let everyone understand that they are being judged, both by us and by the international community,” he said.

Tsipras noted that Ankara has of late heightened its provocations, and is aggravating the situation in bilateral relations on all fronts.

“For our part, we are continuing to exploit any influence that we have. The stern message from the European Union towards Turkey is an important development,” the PM said.

Fyrom, Greek-Turkish ties linked

The prime minister underlined the importance of striking a settlement with FYROM and with Albania so that Greece can normalise relations with the two countries on its northern border, so as to husband Athens’ diplomatic capital, and to focus on dealing with and transcending problems with Turkey.

Tsipras stressed the need for national consensus so as to strengthen Athens’ hand in dealing with critical issues of foreign policy.

“I believe that on issues of foreign policy, a stance of indiscriminate and sterile [domestic] confrontation is harmful, not for the government, but for the entire country,” he underlined.

“I want to assure the Greek people that Greece is a strong and secure country. There is no cause for alarm. We are not threatening anybody, and we are not afraid of anybody. Our neighbours should abandon their aggressive rhetoric. Let them put aside the attacks, and proceed as quickly as possible with a good will gesture: the return of the two Greek army officers being held in Edirne,” the PM said.